The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has delivered judgment in respect of the Supreme Court's request for a preliminary ruling concerning the interpretation of Article 13(2) of Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament on services in the internal market ( ‘the Services Directive'). The ECJ noted the Supreme Court's decision (upholding the submissions made on behalf of Westminster City Council) that a licensing or other regulatory regime under which an applicant is required to pay an initial fee to cover the administrative costs of applying for authorisation, and a further fee to cover the costs of the running and enforcement of the regime if and when the application is successful, is consistent with Article 13(2) of the Services Directive. The preliminary ruling was sought with regard to the further question of whether an applicant could be required to pay both parts of the fee at the point of application, on the understanding that the part designed to cover the costs of the running and enforcement of the regime would be returned to the applicant if the application was unsuccessful.
David Matthias Q.C. appeared for Westminster City Council before the Supreme Court and with Charles Streeten before the ECJ at the hearing on 1 June 2016, at which the claimants also appeared, as well as the European Commission and the Netherlands Government as an intervener.
In its judgment the ECJ has concluded that Article 13(2) of the Services Directive must be interpreted as precluding a requirement for the payment of a fee, at the time of submitting an application for the grant or renewal of authorisation, part of which corresponds to the costs relating to the management and enforcement of the authorisation scheme concerned, even if that part is refundable if that application is refused.
The ECJ's judgment can be viewed at: http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/EUECJ/2016/C31615.html
The Supreme Court's judgment can be viewed at: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2013-0146-judgment.pdf